Fine birding weather continues at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, and increasingly, birds are showing signs of spring. There is very little ice remaining in the waters around the peninsula, so the waterfowl, while present in the thousands, tend to be beyond the range of most optical equipment for easy identification.
No new species of ducks were reported this week, but a few individual early migrants were among them. Single GADWALLS and RING-NECKED DUCKS, for example, have been around for much of the week. The BARROW'S GOLDENEYE that has spent the winter at the lighthouse appeared to have disappeared for two days after February 16, but late on February 19 and early on the 20th it was noticed very far out in the water and much closer on February 21. Since then it has again disappeared.
Up to three BALD EAGLES have been seen on different days this week.
Single NORTHERN HARRIERS and SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS were the only other hawks observed. The earliest Presqu'ile date for AMERICAN WOODCOCK was on February 26, so it might be worth checking any areas that are not snow-covered after tomorrow for newly arrived birds of that species.
RING-BILLED GULLS have suddenly taken over Gull Island, where they are milling around their nesting area by the noisy thousands. Together with other colonial nesting birds on the offshore islands, they would make an interesting spectacle for summer tourists if someone could get permission to circle the islands with a tour boat, as is done around Perce Rock in Quebec. SNOWY OWLS are being seen almost every day, on Gull Island, at Owen Point, on the beach, and on the remaining ice of Presqu'ile Bay. A BARRED OWL was also seen.
RED-BELLIED and PILEATED WOODPECKERS have both been seen this week.
NORTHERN SHRIKES have been at the calf pasture and at Owen Point. The first HORNED LARK of the spring flew over the Park gate on February 19.
The wintering CAROLINA WREN at 83 Bayshore Road has become more vociferous. AMERICAN ROBINS are now almost ubiquitous and are in full song in some places. The SAVANNAH SPARROW at 83 Bayshore Road has put in several appearances. NORTHERN CARDINALS are now in full song. There is still a female HOUSE SPARROW frequenting the feeders at 83 Bayshore Road.
To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island not using a boat should be prepared to wade through ice-choked water of unknown depth, in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.
Questions and comments about bird sightings at Presqu'ile may be directed to: FHELLEINER@TRENTU.CA.